Ames, Iowa — The Western Kentucky University men's 4x400-meter relay team of Gavin Smellie, Alexander Larin, Romaine McKay and Terrill McCombs ran a NCAA provisional-qualifying time of 3:07.61 Saturday at the Iowa State Last Chance Qualifier in Ames, Iowa. That fifth-place time betters the WKU record in the event by nearly four seconds, and also sets a new Sun Belt Conference record by over six-tenths of a second.
Running against five of the top-10 ranked relay teams in the nation, the Hilltoppers finished third in their heat behind Texas A&M (3:06.68) and Texas Tech (3:06.93), while beating out Nebraska (3:08.06), Georgia (3:08.56), and South Carolina (3:09.41).
"Having the oppotunity to run in this type of situation against national-caliber teams and knowing you can compete at the highest level of NCAA track and field is very satisfying and I am proud of these young men," said WKU head track and field coach Erik Jenkins.
The WKU foursome obliterated the former school record of 3:11.19, which was set by Smellie, McCombs, McKay and Steve Wilson earlier this season at the Rod McCravy Invitational in Lexington, Ky., while the former SBC standard of 3:08.32 was set in 2004 by Middle Tennessee.
Also competing in individual events at Iowa State, Smellie and McCombs finished fourth and fifth in the 200-meter dash with times of 21.28 and 21.32, respectively. Each ran provisional-qualifying times two weeks ago at the Sun Belt Conference championships, and will be considered for at-large bids to the NCAA Indoor Championships to be held next weekend in Fayetteville, Ark.
The qualifying relay effort puts the Hilltoppers eleventh on the NCAA descending order list. In the previous five seasons, the NCAA Track & Field Committee has invited at least eleven relay teams to the indoor championships. The NCAA will announce at-large selections to the national championship Monday evening.